I’m typing this into my iPad, using a wireless keyboard that qualifies as a full-sized keyboard in most respects. Yet it’s only nine inches wide, and it weighs just eight ounces.

Once upon a time, a five- or six-pound laptop may have seemed a miraculous device, but after lugging it around for a few trips, it becomes a load. So, it’s easy to like the idea of traveling with an iPad – which weighs 1.5 pounds or 1.6 pounds, depending on the model – and pairing it with a small Bluetooth keyboard for writing assignments.

Well, I’m just back from my first trip using this set-up, and I’m here to give it a qualified endorsement.

I prefer the iPad for many tasks, including routine e-mail, Web surfing, checking RSS feeds, managing my calendar and such. Never mind its many other uses – for reading books and magazines, listening to music, watching movies and TV shows, playing games, and more. It’s worth noting, too, that an iPad is less intrusive in the tight confines of an airline seat.

But rules preclude the use of a wireless keyboard on an airplane, even if you could balance a keyboard and a tablet device on a vibrating seat tray. And while the bluetooth keyboard is a significant improvement over the iPad’s virtual keyboard, I found I still prefer my laptop for longer writing projects and for editing photos. With the wireless keyboard, you can write to your heart’s content, but you can’t quickly access multiple windows – e-mail, Web sites, PDFs, spreadsheets and other sources.

Will I travel again with an iPad and/or a keyboard? Yep. But I’ll know writing projects would take less time with a laptop. When multi-tasking comes to the iPad, maybe this will change.

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